The short answer is "it depends." But for prayerful Catholics who persevere in cultivating a relationship with God, over time, the answer is a resounding YES.
First, the most radiant witness is someone in love with God. That soul connection with Christ magnetizes our personalities and fast-tracks our growth in virtue. As our souls are increasingly conformed to Christ, our ability to lead, nurture, and inspire the faith of others explodes. And in a critical sense, this empowerment all comes down to obedience.
One of my favorite Scripture passages is Deuteronomy 28:1-14 (NABRE), also known as "the obedience blessing." Take note of the words in bold:
"Now, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord, your God, carefully observing all his commandments which I give you today, the Lord, your God, will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overwhelm you when you obey the voice of the Lord, your God...."
Deuteronomy does not tell us that the best looking person or the smartest or the most talented will be given God's authority, protection, and power to lead. The blessing that shares God's authority, prosperity, and even victory over our enemies is a reward for humble conformity to God's laws.
Authority over "all the nations" is the blessing that accompanies a diligent, obedient love of God. We're really talking about a grace-powered process of baby-stepping our way to holiness, as we learn to humbly rely on God's wisdom and yield to his holy plan for our lives.
When we lean into him and trust him, we grow in wisdom and clarity of vision; and the realistic understanding of our authentic, ongoing need for his grace in all things becomes more and more certain. That certainty, in a world troubled by painful confusion about who we are and why we exist, is a compelling quality that makes others wonder, "What does that person have that I don't? And how can I get it?"
Yes, holy obedience brings us amazing, eternal benefits. And yet, as we mature in faith, we come to experience the thrill of loving God for his own sake, rather than what he can do for us. I don't mean that we stop asking for help or hoping for his assistance, but this awareness of Almighty God's astonishing beauty and humility fills our petitions with awe and gratitude.
As we walk with God, over time, our ongoing conversion continues to bear fruit that becomes increasingly apparent to others and makes us potent evangelizers. As God gradually sets us free, he gives us a radiant, rugged joy that stands up under suffering and attracts other souls to the gift of faith that permeates our lives.
Here are nine habits for pursuing this deeper connection to God over time:
1. Frequent, reverent reception and adoration of the Holy Eucharist 2. Daily prayer, especially the Holy Rosary 3. Prayerful, reflective reading of Scripture and the lives of the saints 4. Contemplating and loving the "yes" behind each "no" in the Ten Commandments 5. Confessing our sins, large and small—because the little ones make it easier to commit the big ones, and the healing power of Sacramental Reconciliation brings marvelous, grace-filled surprises 6. Cultivating humility, purity, patience, and other virtues, with the help of the Holy Spirit 7. Carrying our crosses in a spirit of holy resignation and trust 8. Sharing what we have (time, talent, treasure) generously and cheerfully 9. Seeking to restore the dignity of other human beings through our prayers, thoughts, and acts of service
This blog was written by Lisa Mladinich, author or True Radiance: Finding Grace in the Second Half of Life. A former actress turned Catholic catechist and author, today she holds up the mirror to our faith in Christ and illumines the dignity and purpose we possess as women made in the image of God.